Saturday, 30 January 2016

60 Second Film Reviews #25


Quick movie reviews, without the waffle. 60 Second Film Reviews is a regular feature where I compile together brief reviews of recent films I've watched at home or at the movies - and generally couldn't be arsed didn't find time to write a proper review for.

On the slate this month, we have a post-apocalyptic love story in Z for Zachariah and a snowy tale of survival in Everest.


Everest (2015)


Based on the true story of a fatal expedition to Mount Everest in 1996, Everest sees Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur combine an all-star cast with gorgeous visual effects work. Headlining the expedition is experienced climber Rob Hall (Jason Clarke); tasked with escorting a troupe of adventurous tourists up the fearsome mountain, Rob leaves behind his pregnant wife Jan (Keira Knightley) and rekindle a professional rivalry with fellow mountaineer Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal) in the process.

Amongst his group is gung-ho Texan Beck (Josh Brolin); journalist Jon (Michael Kelly) and mailman Doug (John Hawkes). Naturally, as you can expect with this type of disaster film, not everyone makes it to the end alive and the biggest source of entertainment comes from taking bets on who, how and when they'll exit stage left. The film does an admirable job of handling it's vast ensemble cast, but the thinly-drawn cookie-cutter characters are either cliched or forgotten about. Plus, the accents (which I think 80% of are supposed to be Kiwi?) are all over the shop. The only thing rockier than the mountain itself is Keira Knightley's shaky attempt at the tricky Kiwi accent.

Even though I watched the film on my MacBook Pro and not a vast 3D megascreen as it was probably intended, the deep crevasses and steep cliffs are just as vertiginous. Credit where credit is due, the film does a great job of creating the illusion of being trapped in the cold, harsh environment of Mount Everest through some great direction, impressive visual effects and sound design.

I give Everest: 7/10


Everest is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD


Z for Zachariah (2015)


Z for Zachariah is a relatively small budget independent post-apocalypse drama starring Margot Robbie, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Chris Pine.

Set in a post-nuclear annihilation North America, a lone woman named Ann (Robbie) lives a sheltered existence separated from the irradiated outside world on a farm in a secluded valley. When a wanderer by the name of John (Ejiofor) arrives and the two start to bond does their true purpose become clear - that is until Caleb (Pine) also arrives and starts causing tension between the two.

The first thing you must know about this film is that it is really slow. Almost fatally slow. The plot really is that simple and the majority of the film is long, windy conversations about survival and their plan to construct a water wheel to generate electricity. If you prefer your post-apocalypse wastelands to be action-packed and full of incident, this isn't the film for you. It's more about these three characters, Ann in particular, grappling with themes such as isolation, love, purpose and religion.

I'm not a religious person, but I thought it was kinda nifty how elements of the film mirrored aspects of the Bible, particularly the Book of Genesis. The secluded valley that Ann lives in is the Garden of Eden, her budding relationship with John makes them Adam and Eve whilst the arrival and temptation towards Caleb signifies the snake and the apple. Whether these are intentional or not is besides the point, but I appreciated that the film was more than just skin-deep and could be read in different ways. Even if there wasn't a lot of action going on, the film was never uninteresting in a subtextual sense.

The direction is pretty, the characters are interesting and the ending is clever (if a little anticlimactic) - on the whole, Z for Zachariah is a great little character-driven movie that showcases three brilliant performances, particularly from Ejiofor.

I give Z for Zachariah: 7/10


Z for Zachariah is available now on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD

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